Saturday, October 31, 2015

A Small Rant

I've been forced lately to acknowledge that some of the people I had previously considered sensible really aren't. Which, honestly, shouldn't come as a surprise, and yet it did.

This revelation comes to me via Facebook, of course, that perfect medium of publicizing each of your own cherished idiocies. (My Facebook wall is currently mostly kitten pictures... FarmDad located another three kittens, soggy and unhappy in the rain, a while back, bringing my total count to nine cats in the house. Oy.)

Back on point, the educating factor lately has been the slew of alleged police misconduct, accompanied by cell phone video, which inevitably gets people in an uproar.

With each new incident of cell-phone filmed police interaction, more and more people connected to me on the Book of Face are revealing themselves to be less inclined towards logical thinking than I had expected them to be. Which is not actually their fault- if someone fails to live up to my expectations without any acknowledged agreement to do so, it's my fault for misjudging where to set my expectations for them.

Here's my position on all of it: We don't know everything. No matter how many angles an incident is covered from, regardless of the clarity of the video or the apparently endless string of "expert" commentators the talking heads on the television trot out, we never, ever know everything about one of those incidents. Period, full stop, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Let's leave aside phrases like "active investigation" and "HIPAA."*

In the first place, the entirety of the incident is never on cell phone video. (Dash cam and body cam video are a separate issue in this regard.)

Johnny Public who wants a ton of views on his YouTube channel doesn't notice a cop approaching within cell phone range and immediately start videoing. You know how I know this? Because with one exception, that being a video of an extremely high man in a McDonalds who had apparently been causing a fuss and stirring up trouble for long enough to get most of the other patrons annoyed at him before the police arrived, I have never seen the officer approach and make an initial interaction with the supposed victim in one of these videos. Come to think of it, for the parameters I've set, the video I mentioned doesn't count, since it wasn't accusing the cops of misconduct but rather saving for posterity the consequences of poor choices in the recreational pharmaceutical area.

So, really, none of them show the officer making his initial contact... none of them start until someone thinks things are gonna get exciting- by which time, there have likely been at least a few escalating factors... which can come from either the officer or the purported victim.

I'm not saying that the cops are always right, or that there aren't bad cops. I'm just saying that we don't know everything.

But, let's handwave aside the specifics leading up to whenever Johnny Public decided to hit the record button on his phone, that seems to be a popular strategy anyway.

Even if that didn't matter (and it does) we still don't know everything. In every area, on every beat, there are people who are well known, infamous even. The girl in the video who looks small and harmless being tackled by the big mean cop may in actuality be the one that every officer in the department knows will regularly go off her psych meds and decide that the government is stalking her. This particular incident might have been preceded by several others, in which she attempted to assault officers. Dispatch might have notified the officers that she was likely off of her meds again, judging by the calls that she had made to the administrative and/or 911 lines. Or, maybe they don't have indications that she's off her meds again, maybe she just has a known history of attempting to assault people, or harm herself.

We don't know.

Maybe the cop's dog died the night before and he's really sad but wants to be a man about it so he's mad at the world, and therefore has decided to be an utter jackwagon to everyone that day.

By all means, watch the videos, and inevitably you will draw your own conclusions when you do, but for the sake of all that is logical remember this one phrase before you begin spreading them around like a testimonial from on high: We. Don't. Know. Everything.

Don't get so utterly set in your opinion of an incident in which you weren't involved, and have necessarily limited knowledge, that new information cannot sway you. And for gawd's sake don't jump on bandwagons, either the All Cops Are Evil one or the Cops Are Always Right one.

There are bad cops out there, and there are good cops out there. I happen to work with and know a good number of the latter, for which I am appropriately grateful. But shouting back and forth about be respectful and OMG PIGS is about as productive as a gun buy-back, in terms of achieving the stated goal.

Here's an idea, and it'll cover Rape Culture, Racism, Sexism, Bad Cops, Liberals, Conservatives, Hipsters,Them, and Us all in one grand plan:

How about we all just treat each other, regardless of any identifying characteristic, with a basic level of respect and decency, based on the fact that we are all human beings. The good old Golden Rule: Treat Others As You Would Want To Be Treated. With it's oft unspoken corollary: If Someone Leaves You The Hell Alone, Show Them The Same Courtesy.

I think that'd cut down on a lot of the uproar we've been seeing on these subjects lately.

It'll never happen, of course.

*Hat tip to OldNFO for pointing out my sleep-deprived error.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

"Other Duties as Assigned"

I've got a few little extra duties, but one of the more entertaining ones as a vampire dispatcher is the wake up calls.

If someone has an early morning, and thinks they might need help getting out of bed or just wants to be sure someone will bug them until they show evidence of being awake and coherent, they'll ask a dispatcher to give them a wake up call.

At least one of them plans an extra hour in "ten more minutes" into the routine. He took a nap in the deputy's quarters attached to the jail after a particularly shitty week when he really needed to be catching up on paperwork, but couldn't keep his eyes open. Which is fine, he deserved it, believe me.

But he asked to be woken up in an hour. So he was, and "ten more minutes, please." Okidokie.

Ten minutes later "ten more minutes please."

Half a dozen "Ten more minutes" and I told him the next time I had to go in there I was going to poke him with a stick. And then found a stick.

I need to figure out how to play music through the office phones so that I can blast him with something loud and obnoxious... it's not that I mind waking him up and I know he builds the time in for someone to basically annoy him into actual wakefulness... but every so often I feel like changing it up a bit.

And my midget phone sex worker voice just doesn't faze him, alas.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Had A Weird Dream Today

I've been having some rather oddball dreams lately, the kind that wake you up because your brain throws on the brakes and says "Wait, what??"

But some of them, I wake up a bit and try to go back to sleep if I have time cause I want to know what happens next.

Had one of those today... and after a little back and forth with LabRat after I decided it wasn't gonna get out of my head, ended up with what's turning out to be a really fun story idea.

Not ready for public consumption yet, but I'm poking at it in between doing the work that they actually pay me to do...

I will say, it probably makes me entirely too happy to write "I'm not putting a goddamn black bear in the plane!"

Sunday, September 20, 2015


Yet again, here at the Old Homestead, we have kittens. This time, I don't even have to be momma! Farmmom and Farmdad, having worked very hard to get the FarmHouse in shape out in the country and moved out there a while back, were pretty much immediately adopted by a tortoise shell female longhair cat, who, once she got over her shyness, was a loveable little outdoor pain in the butt. (She's a mottled three color cat, with the primary colors being black and brown... some call that calico, but to me, a calico is white with spots of multiple colors scattered about.)

She's also a prolific pain in the butt. Unfortunately, she is wise to the ways of raising kittens, and also to the machinations of humankind, vis a vis her reproductive equipment, so she'd get a litter just to weaning, and then vanish for two weeks, and come back knocked up again.

Now, we're practical people, around here. For the combined my-birthday-their-anniversary dinner mom and dad (actually quite cheerfully) caught hold of one of the Buff Orphington roosters, ended his dizzy little lifespan (Farmmom has a grudge- the Orphingtons that I bought along with some Wyandottes to add to the flock and bring some bulk and new blood in for the stated purpose of getting some better meat chickens are not very bright, except for one of the roosters who has figured out that her tomato plants in the garden are Magical Items which produce Yummy Stuff on a fairly regular basis, and so will bee-line for them first thing and steal her ripe tomatoes, nibbling them a bit or carrying them back to the flock... I think he wants to be a politician....) and tossed him in a pot and made up some absolutely yummy chicken and noodles.

But not a one of us likes the idea of aborting a litter of kittens. Hell, when I got FarmDog spayed way back when I got a case of the creeping awfuls after the vet told me he hadn't charged me for aborting the litter of pups she was carrying... that I had no idea about.

So, back to Momma Cat... Something needed to be done before we had more cats than acres. So, when she turned up enceinte yet again after an extended absence, I sighed and drug out the house cat paraphernalia that I had stowed away after the death of Ziffer Cat and hauled her into town, where she could be placed under house arrest until the arrival and weaning of the kittens.

Fast forward, and she decides to give birth, thankfully on one of my off nights. I was expecting a large litter, since she was ginormous. Six kittens came forth. Three survived the week. It's not that she was a bad Momma, she's actually a fairly wonderful Momma, but running around out on the farm are a couple generations of her offspring and grand offspring, and no guarantee who the daddy of any of the kittens are.... those poor unfortunate three kittens didn't do well from the start, in fact I'm not certain one of them wasn't stillborn, since it died before I knew it had arrived.

Momma cat, who I suspect had been someone's pet that had gone feral or been kicked out at some point in her life, had nonetheless raised several successful litters as a feral, with all of the paranoia that comes with that, so our arrangements re: the kittens were understandably tense.

Not that she had a problem with me, per se, she was just paranoid. She would love on me and be very happy to see me every time I'd go peek, but woe betide me if I tried to put them in a box instead of on the carpet. (I did. She moved them. Then waited until I was drifting peacefully off to sleep and ambushed my right arm in a knock-down drag-out vicious manner that had me contemplating renaming her Gurkha Cat.)

We eventually settled on the arrangement that I could put old sheets down in her den area, under the vanity, and she would desist the guerrilla warfare as long as I didn't try to move the kittens. I was graciously allowed to examine them (as long as they didn't go to far from the den) and could reach into the den and love on them, so long as I remembered who they belonged to.

Fast forward two weeks. Three surviving kittens are doing very well and making with the growth, eyes are open and looking around in bewilderment, the little yellow boy kitten is purring when I pet him and the obligatory Mini Momma Cat (she always comes up with at least one fuzzy little clone of herself in a litter) is playing "get your belly" with verve... and I get a voicemail from Farmdad as I'm leaving work.

"I just found kittens, and I think their momma just abandoned them. Pretty sure the one that was dead got too cold on the shop floor... we're gonna have to do something with em."

And I get accused of being a softie. So out to the FarmHouse I go, after a twelve hour shift, muttering imprecations upon ditzy puss cats who can't be bothered to tend to their spawn and how, after twelve hours of dealing with them, I have to go rescue kittens.

Then I brought them to town and crossed my fingers to hope against hope that Momma Cat would foster them, because while my workplace is really relaxed and understanding, eventually even they would get tired of me bringing a pair of kittens to work with me to bottle feed every two hours.

When I showed the two brand new babies to her I figured out why the unknown mother of the new kittens had basically popped em out and wandered off... because Momma Cat immediately took over and adopted them. So, I infer that she's basically been raising any kittens she can get her paws on out there.

So, we've got five kittens now, two of em a couple weeks behind the others.

Momma cat will get spayed when the kittens are weaned, and then go back to being an outside cat at the Farm. She'd love to be an inside/outside cat here, but I can't manage to break her of a couple of habits that are deal breakers, like getting on the counters, and knocking over the trash can and rooting around inside it.

And I'll have plenty of kittens to go around, here in a few weeks. I'm pretty sure that one of the gals I work with is gonna manage to take one home, over the objections of her husband. In the mean time it's rather entertaining when she asks me how her kitten is doing when he's around.

And, having two of the cutest stages of kittendom around at the same time is fun- the stage in which they really get mobile and playful, but before they turn into super ninjas that make you say things like "why are you eating the wall??" and "how did you get on the ceiling?" And the stage in which they've opened their eyes and are *just* getting mobile and getting into that clumsy, wobbly, roly-poly tumble over for no real reason mode.

The little black boy is the quietest, I think he's got a defect of the squeaker cause he barely meows, and when he does he sounds like he's got laryngitis, the big yellow boy purrs the loudest, and was the first to purr at being petted. The oldest Momma Cat clone is the spookiest, but also quietly the most affectionate... she's the one that if you sit on the floor you won't notice that she's crawled into your lap and begun to purr. Mostly because you've been dealing with the typically male rambunctious affections of the black boy. Of the bitty kittens, there's another yellow boy, who is the noisiest, and will set up a ruckus at the slightest provocation, and another Momma Cat clone, who we weren't sure was gonna make it because she wasn't too well off when Farmdad found them. She apparently found the energy to be aggravated by the car ride to town, though, and tucked right in to dinner when introduced to Momma Cat, and has been doing well. She's possibly the sweetest of them, when I talk to the babies she'll come wibbly-wobbling her way over to me and curl up close... and if there's exposed skin nearby she'll give nursing-nuzzles and kitten kisses and set up a purr.

So, yet again, I have a bunch of baby critters around the house, and yet again, they remind me to smile.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Writing Bug...

Has been nibbling me lately. Not enough for a full blown story... since I don't have any really good ones that I can share, at the moment, at least... but enough that I recall I have this blog thingy.

So, since it's the most common question I get from non-law-enforcement affiliated friends and acquaintances, in between re-reading LawDog's archives after sharing the Pink Gorilla Suit story with a co-worker (and might just share it with another while I'm thinking of it, before I go home for the day) I finally thought up a sufficient answer for "So, what's it like to work at the Sheriff's Office?"

Bearing in mind that most of those who ask me this haven't worked in Law Enforcement, and are probably expecting to hear all about how awesome it is to know what's going on first (trust me, I don't... I'm lucky if I know enough of what's going on at the end to fill out the proper records... And sometimes I'm lucky if that's all I know...) here's what I've come up with:

You know that person in High School who you knew was kind of crushing on you, but you would rather have swallowed raw cow intestines stuffed with broken glass than seen them naked?

Well, now you get to see them naked.

Better yet, they still think you're cute.

(Keep in mind that the good parts of my job, I love. I like it when there are fresh thank you cards up on the bulletin boards, I'm glad to be able to provide the number for the local roadside assistance/tow dude, and I like seeing people walk out of the jail, never to return. I like the people I work with, for the most part, and I have a lot of fun with them. I plan in an extra fifteen to twenty minutes at most shift changes because my daywalker opposite is one of those people that when we get to talking, we wind up going from books to movies to ducks to kittens to kids to "Oh god, I have to show you this thing I saw on the internet it is freaking hilarious!" Every day is a little different and I'm picking up some seriously portable skills, and adding polish to some I had already acquired. But if you think it's all hilarious calls and big computer screens, you've obviously never been inside a jail.... which isn't a bad thing, but can lead to some serious misconceptions.)

Monday, March 23, 2015


That's how the last couple of months have been. Minor annoyances and stresses build up, especially in the winter, for those of us who are sun worshipers at heart. When you know a warm day and some time outside doing nothing all that important but still productive and enjoyable will melt the tension from your shoulders, watching that thermometer stay stubbornly below t-shirt temps makes things drag.

Then I lost Ziffer Cat. She was old and cranky for years, but she still picked on the dogs and begged for pets. Then she stopped eating. I got her to the vet as soon as I could after that, to say a final farewell. She was fifteen years old, which is very old for a kitten with as rough a start as she'd had. And, one of the responsibilities you take on as an owner of any animal is the one to ensure that their end is as easy as you can make it. No matter how much it hurts you, you have to make it better for them. It's not easy, but it is necessary.

Then I lost a dear friend, one of the first in my life to teach me that age old lesson that friends are the family you choose. He was one of my first "adopted" uncles, a big-bellied bearded overall wearing teddy bear. He'd survived Vietnam, Agent Orange, railroad work, motorcycle riding, diabetes, and recently a very scary bout with congestive heart failure and kidney failure... in fact he was in a rehab center getting into shape to come home after a couple of months on his back, with many close calls. And then he just... woke up dead. The doctors say his organs were trashed, and a quick look after he died showed it to be consistent with damage from the Agent Orange and the stresses of the last two months. His insides just... gave up.

It's one of those losses that sets everything in the world just a *little* off. I confess, even though I knew I'd outlive him, I never really thought of a world without him. I couldn't picture it. Even lying in an ICU bed wincing when he laughed, I couldn't imagine him dying, even while I threatened to pee on his grave if he up and died on us.

So everything is just that little bit off. But the weather is warming and the sun is being kind, and life does go on for those of us still living. I bought mom a big portable greenhouse for her plant starts, and me a small one for my tree cuttings. Dad and I went sage-hunting in the pasture, and dug up some sage plants to try and pot, on a mad scheme to sell "Old Growth, ethically collected, all organic, cruelty free, locally sourced" sage bonsai. It made me smile, and an afternoon out wandering pastures did me good.

The crows rebuilt the nest on the top of the windmill tower, but we've got the solar pump there now so they can stay. I climbed up to see if they were laying yet, and found a single egg, so spring is here.

My wonderful co-worker, the mistress of the schedule, took advantage of a scheduling rodeo to swing me a four day weekend, which has helped.

Little brother is coming over this evening so that I can finish paying him for the motorcycle, and we can go through a catalogue and get parts that are needed, and discuss parts that aren't needed but are really nifty.

Maybe I'll have the bike up and running in time for the memorial. It isn't a Harley, like he rode, but he knew about it before he died and he approved of my choice. I'll have to go buy some bib overalls, too. It wouldn't be right to show up at his service in anything else.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Book of Barkley a read for the heart

For Christmas I received a copy of The book of Barkley.  I was excited since I had been reading blog posts from this lady for a while.  She has an amazing way of looking at the world and bringing you right along with her to witness life from a slightly different perspective.
I had been trying to put my feelings for the book into mere words on the screen when I ran across a review from Kirkus book reviews.  They say it much better than I can.

"Debut author Johnson enters the literary scene with a beautifully penned eulogy to the Labrador retriever who taught her to appreciate life in the moment while helping open her fractured heart to the joys of love.
By the time Johnson was ready to bring a puppy into her life, she had shouldered a lion’s share of emotional baggage: She lost her mother to cancer at an early age, was abandoned by the father of her unplanned baby (given up for adoption)
and had freed herself from an unhappy marriage. Along the way, she became a jet pilot. She had hung up her wings and taken a well-paying job (as an unspecified federal agent) and was about to purchase a new house. “It was time for a black
lab.” Even before Barkley was old enough to leave the litter, he picked Johnson out to be his mother. As the other puppies ran around frolicking over new people and smells, Barkley sat quietly and studied her. Then he made his decision, coming over to check out her shoelaces, never leaving her side.
This memoir is the story of the 10 years Johnson and Barkley shared. But it is much more. Johnson’s writing borders on the lyrical, her prose meandering gently
to and fro through a lifetime of recollections and musings, always coming back to rest in the safe harbor of the love, trust and protectiveness she and Barkley had for one another. She’s a fan of lengthy, free-flowing sentences, and some readers
may occasionally wait a bit impatiently for her to put aside the philosophizing and return to Barkley. He was always there—the inspiration for her thoughts, the validation that life is worth living. And there are plenty of Barkley tales to
satisfy. Right up front, readers will know they need a box of tissues: The book opens just after Barkley has died. So buck up for this tender work full of humor and charming misbehavior.
An unusually full-bodied love story that will wrap itself around the heart of anyone who has been fortunate enough to experience life with a dog".--Kirkus Reviews

Take time to read The Book of Barkley.  It is well worth the time.  Keep a box of tissues handy and have an extra copy ready to hand to someone when they ask why you are laughing.
Congratulations LB.....and thank you.